top of page

Dear Jaipur & Mumbai

I am writing to express my heartfelt regret for not fully delving into the wonders of your diverse landscapes. I am aware that my limited time in your cities has deprived me of witnessing the most awe-inspiring views the world has to offer. My brief encounter with this vibrant metropolis left a lasting impression, particularly in the stark contrast between the grandeur of opulent buildings and the poignant realities of those living on the streets. Please note that this letter represents my personal experience and perception, and may not capture the rich perspectives of the local residents. I can only speak from the depths of my own eyes and heart.

I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to immerse myself in the cultures and creations of this magnificent world, traversing continents and hopping from country to country. It has always been a dream of mine, a dream of boundless wonder and endless discovery. As I reflect upon my sojourn through the lively street-side of Mumbai and Jaipur, a kaleidoscope of impressions and observations flood my thoughts. There is a desire to share every intricacy, every nuance, and every encounter. However, I am mindful not to overwhelm the reader with a deluge of details, but rather to distill the essence of my experience, focusing on the profound facets that have left an indelible mark on my consciousness. Although my time in Mumbai and Jaipur was momentary, it was a period of profound learning from harsh realities. The world's perils are not unfamiliar to me, but experiencing them in the unique context of Mumbai and Jaipur was an mind altering adventure.

In the busy streets of Jaipur and Mumbai, where horns blare, colors sway, smells roar, and footsteps echo, there would be the sight of cows casually walking amongst it all. For centuries, cows have held a sacred place in the Hindu tradition. Symbolizing blessings, purity, abundance, good fortune, and a nurturing energy, they are considered as a motherly figure, providing sustenance and prosperity to the community. In these cities, cows are not mere animals but living embodiments of divinity. Their presence brings a sense of calm and spiritual connection to the bustling urban landscape. They wander gracefully, their soft eyes radiating serenity and their gentle demeanor captivating the hearts of passersby. Every step they take is a reminder of the interconnectedness between humans and nature, a harmonious bond that transcends the chaos of urban life. Within the concrete jungle, the cows become ambassadors of peace, teaching us to respect and coexist with all living beings.

As I journeyed through the outskirts of Jaipur and the center of Mumbai, I was struck by the sight of cows freely roaming the dirt roads amidst half-built structures, alongside the local people. Later, I encountered emaciated cows with hollow bellies and prominent ribcages, a graphic contrast to the full-bodied ones I had seen earlier. This juxtaposition encapsulated the perspective I gained during my time in these areas—a vivid portrayal of wealth disparity that is so intimately intertwined; a full cow and a hungry one. On one hand, I witnessed grand, towering buildings that housed opulent residences belonging to a privileged few- such as Mukesh Ambani a billionaire industrialist. These structures stood as symbols of affluence and prosperity, casting their imposing shadows over the landscape. On the other hand, I could not help but notice the divergence—homes and lives marked by scarcity and want, a testament to the ever-present hunger for basic necessities. Just outside the majestic façade of the rumored opulent family home, a captivating tableau unfolded, revealing a fascinating duality of existence. There, on the swarming city streets, an image emerged, seamlessly weaving together the lives of those dwelling within the luxurious walls and those who found solace on the very doorstep, blurring the boundaries between fortune and destitution.

Nevertheless, in the thick of the challenging realities, there were also moments of remarkable resilience, vibrant culture, and the unwavering spirit of the people. I marveled at the rich traditions and heritage that unfolded before me. The Indian woman's traditional attire, known as the saree, showcases a vibrant array of colors that represent the beauty of our world. From passionate reds to tranquil blues, blooming greens, joyful yellows to graceful pinks, the saree embodies a color theory that celebrates the diverse shades of life. Adorned with intricate patterns and delicate embroideries, the saree is a symbol of timeless elegance and cultural heritage. It empowers the woman who wears it, exuding confidence and grace with every movement. The active markets of Jaipur & Mumbai, with their animated colors and captivating aromas, offered a glimpse into the soul of the city.

Within the mosaic of my expedition, the tender benevolence of unfamiliar faces etched a symphony of gratitude in my heart. Their earnest inquisitiveness and unwavering willingness to extend a hand infused my spirit with a celestial warmth, rekindling my reverence for the delicate threads that bind us all. Each serendipitous act of compassion became a radiant sunbeam, casting luminous hues upon the essence of empathy and unveiling the infinite reservoirs of goodness that reside within our world. In their embrace, I discovered an oasis of solace, an ethereal wellspring of inspiration, and a resolute faith in the celestial scramble of human interconnectedness.

In the core of this captivating journey, a poignant realization emerged – that India, with its rich cultural heritage and dynamic democracy, stands as the face of Western ideals in the globalized world. The intricate architecture of Mumbai's colonial buildings and historic landmarks transported me to a bygone era. Yet, I couldn't help but question the implications of this role. Does it serve as an agent of neo-colonialism, perpetuating a system that may inadvertently marginalize its own people and stifle their authentic voices? The urban landscapes of Mumbai, with its towering skyscrapers and bustling thoroughfares, presented a captivating canvas for exploration. Although, beneath the surface of this metropolitan allure, I glimpsed the shadow of overdevelopment, the perils of rapid urbanization without proper sustainability measures. The air pollution, the incessant traffic, and the struggles of maintaining a clean and healthy environment revealed themselves as cautionary tales, reminding us of the urgent need for responsible growth and mindful stewardship of our surroundings.

Amidst the forceful chaos of these cities, the contrasting realities of a democratic daily life unveiled itself to me like a fresh water pearl waiting to be found. I encountered children on the streets, their innocent faces reflecting both resilience and vulnerability, as their presence stood as a attestation of the persisting social inequities. How can we reconcile the imposition of Western democracy when the most vulnerable among us, the future generation, remain as beggars instead of being nurtured in the embrace of inspirational knowledge? And what of the elderly, finding solace below bridges during the cacophony of traffic, their voices drowned by the relentless noise of progress? In this intricate contemplation, I found myself entangled in the enigma of democracy's essence. Does its existence simply manifest as ethereal abstractions, carefully crafted to orchestrate political dominion, a delicate masquerade concealing the workings of necropolitics?

As I bid farewell to these energetic cities, I carry with me the evocative memories of their splendor, but also the sobering awareness of the difficulties faced. The indomitable spirit of the Indian people, their resilience, and their will, fuels my determination to contribute to a world that honors the dignity of all. May we tread this path with humility, curiosity, and an unwavering commitment to creating a more just and harmonious future.

With profound reverence,

The intellect of the mind is like that of a drunken elephant.
-Guri Ji

52 views2 comments


Olevia Bethune
Olevia Bethune
May 30, 2023

I love the photos and how everything ty together


Olevia Bethune
Olevia Bethune
May 27, 2023

Only a seer can visit such an economically divided country and as opposed to being blinded by shiny objects seeing the divide "between the grandeur of opulent buildings and the poignant realities of those living on the streets"

bottom of page